Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Cardano are hackable, find British scientists

London: Scientists researching on security and protection tools have found a new hack, that suggests there could be a way to trick hardware devices managing popular digital cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Cardano etc. This amidst the popular belief in the crypto-circuit that non-fiat currencies such as Bitcoin are supposed to be more secure than conventional money. The researchers, from the University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom), conducted an in-depth security analysis of the communications system used in popular models of Bitcoin wallet. A simple harmful software, or malware was created, and it succeeded in intercepting messages sent between hardware wallets and computers, where users manage their Bitcoin accounts. The tests revealed that users’ privacy is not protected. It also showed how easy it was to access Bitcoin funds managed by such devices and divert them into a different account. “A wallet should protect not only our money, but also our privacy. It was surprising to discover how easy it is to access a user’s funds, even when sophisticated hardware is incorporated,” said Andriana Gkaniatsou from the University of Edinburgh in the UK. For those of you unaware of what a bitcoin wallet is, it is a place where you can save, store, receive or spend your bitcoins. A wallet could be a simple personal interface to the bitcoin network, quite similar to how the online bank account is to a regular monetary system. The wallet contains secret codes that allows users to transact. Technically, when one says that he or she has lost her bitcoins does not refer to actual coins being lost, but loss of private keys or the secret code. A Wallet in laymen term could be an app, a website, or any device that manages private keys or the secret codes. Of the available ones, the most popular variants are the hardware wallets, a physical wallet solely built with the intention of securing bitcoins. This is how popular wallet Trezor, KeepKey, and Ledger Nano S look like (from left to right). Jordan Tuwiner, Founder of Buy Bitcoin Worldwide tweeted “Think of a hardware wallet like your own underground steel vault. If you own a significant amount of bitcoins, you should strongly consider getting one!” While non-technical users would be happy to know that a crypto-wallet is an easy way to securely store your crypto-currencies, the security concerns would only dampen the prospects, considering the fact that most of such services are paid. Based on the findings published in the journal Information Security, researchers proposed a fix for improving the security of such systems. This would encrypt particular messages sent between Bitcoin wallets and computers, making them much more secure. Their fix could be incorporated into all models of Bitcoin hardware wallet to offer better protection against hacks, researchers said. “Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet when it comes to protecting financial digital assets – we need to ensure that all components of the system are equally protected and interact in a secure way,” said Gkaniatsou, who led the study.

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